Ah, Andrew and Mark. How I miss you guys, and look forward to seeing you both again shortly. While looking for another old post for a discussion, I came across this one (for a last-minute Parents' Day skit about the Olin design curriculum, almost 5 years ago now).
AC209, Olin College. The room is full, the lights are on, and ANDREW, 20 and very professional-looking, stands at the front, addressing the audience. Several chairs are placed at the front of the room between Andrew and the door. As he speaks, MARK, 20, and under the burden of accumulated sleep debt, comes in and starts carrying the chairs out, one at a time. He’s clearly not thrilled about this job. As he turns to remove the first chair, we see a sign labeled “USER” on his back.
Andrew: Aha! An opportunity! (To Mark) You, sir, have a problem. I am a highly-trained engineer; I will fix it. Here.
And with that, he snatches Mark’s hand, measures it several times with a tiny ruler, and dashes out of the room as Mark stands slightly stunned. Machining noises from offstage, Andrew rushes back in with a prototype in his hand, and…
Andrew: There you go. Automatic chair tracker, should solve all your problems, no need to thank me, you’re very welcome, good-bye.
Also, I think I have learned to be stupid since I was 19. Yay! (No, really, it's a good thing. The full rant has more context.)
I’ve got to learn to look stupid. Truly stupid. Not just smart-person-taking-risks-that-temporarily-make-them-appear-dumb-but-are-actually-learning-experiences. Is my pride really that high?
And whenever I have moments of "wow, I did so much better N years ago," I have things like this to remind me that, actually, no, I felt just about as incompetent back then.
Today I do not feel smart. Today I feel like somebody that is wasting her potential. Someone that doesn’t have much to begin with – or did, maybe, but managed it poorly. Today I have gotten one assignment – CompArch – done. Today I have one lab – CompArch – late. Today I have one report – MatSci – late. Today I have slept through class. Today I am trying not to fall asleep so I can work, and spending more time trying to stay awake to work than I am actually working.
Today I am feeling unsustainable and stupid for bringing unsustainability upon myself. Today I know that I have far too much pride, don’t ask for help, fall behind and stay quiet because I like to look smart by not having to have a hand up. I don’t want to have to be saved. I can ask for help, but it’s always in such a way that I’ll appear competent while doing so. That any questions I ask stem from lack of information, not lack of responsibility or ability. I want to be smart and responsible. But I’m not sure that I always know what that means.
And I also have my moments of glory. They usually come when I am teaching. Classrooms are where I learned to be a catalyst.
Me (in best sermon-giving voice): This is an op-amp!
Freshmen: This is an op-amp!
Me: It has a gain!
Freshmen: It has a gain!
Me: And I say unto you, the op-amp gain is dependent upon the frequency -
Freshmen: The frequency!
Me: …of the input signal!
Freshmen (throwing their hands in the air): Amen!
Today I was at Matt Jadud's office hours, surrounded by students working on projects... and I realized that I'm deeply happy when I'm in a school, in a room surrounded by people learning, proxying online and helping with multiple projects at once. And that any amount of shit I have to put up with to be able to live like this for a few hours a week, and have that be a part of my life... it's worth it.
I do love all these worlds. I love them in different ways. My life has been spent learning how to build bridges between places.
Okay. Dammit. Last deliverable for the day, which I've been procrastinating on since morning... must... just... get... this... done. Bloody perfectionism. Then go to bed.